Volunteer Spotlight – Natalie

Natalie started her volunteer journey at GiGi’s Playhouse Cleveland in May of 2022 and immediately after her volunteer onboarding, she began tutoring! Ever since then, Natalie has been a bright light of kindness, acceptance, and love in our GiGi’s Playhouse community. Natalie’s commitment to each student she tutors is evident in the genuine rapport she builds. She meets each student where they are, sets high expectations, and provides a foundation for tremendous growth.

Sit back and enjoy reading Natalie’s heartfelt story. We know you will feel inspired after reading this!

Tell us about yourself!

I am currently finishing up my Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education/Intervention Specialist. I hope to work as an intervention specialist once I graduate. I currently work in ABA therapy as a behavior therapist.  In my free time, I enjoy reading books or crafting. I love hand-lettering and apply this skill to creating custom signs. My favorite season is summer and I love the warm weather and the beach.  In the summer you’ll find me by the pool or on a sand volleyball court. 

How did you find out about GiGi’s Playhouse Cleveland?

I live in Lakewood and would drive past GiGi’s. One day I looked it up to see what GiGi’s is all about. 

Why did you start volunteering at GiGi’s Playhouse?

I wanted to find a way I could give back to the community. When I looked into GiGi’s and read about the mission, I knew this is where I wanted to be. After my first literacy tutoring session, I knew it was the place I was meant to be! 

What is your favorite memory at the Playhouse?

Even though I have many wonderful memories with my kiddos while tutoring, I had a blast at my first Project Pulse performance. I would catch a portion of their practice when I was at the Playhouse for tutoring and to be able to see the outcome of their practice was amazing! 

What do you love about tutoring?

I love the relationships I am able to build during tutoring. My friends and I always share some good laughs while we have a blast learning new skills and refining others. Also, watching their growth from the beginning to the end is the best. 

What part of our mission appeals to you the most and why?

I love that GiGi’s offers support to individuals with Down syndrome on so many levels- from speech to social skills to career skills and everything in between. We are able to guide our friends to reach their biggest potential! I also love that GiGi’s is a resource for families as well. Parents and loved ones are able to learn more while building relationships with volunteers and families. 

What is one piece of advice you’d give to a new volunteer?

Don’t be afraid to say hi to everyone at the Playhouse! Everyone has a big smile and a bigger heart. I love meeting new friends and listening to their stories. 

Why do you enjoy volunteering at GiGi’s Playhouse?

GiGi’s is such a happy and wonderful place for everyone. Whenever I am there, I am happy and in-the-moment. It’s the one time of the week when I’m not thinking about work or school, I just get to have fun! GiGi’s is truly one big happy family. 

Are you interested in tutoring or becoming a volunteer? Click the button below for more information!

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